Educator: Remedial coursework should count for credit

On February 27, 2014

Educators from around Northeast Arkansas met at A-State Tuesday to discuss issues in the state’s education program.

Senator Shane Broadway, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, delivered the opening speech at the NEARK Regional Education P-20 Town Hall Meeting.

“The number of students needing to take remedial courses in college has decreased below 40 percent (of the college population) for the first time ever this year,” Broadway said.

The percentage of students being remediated is still too high, according to Broadway. Students who go through remediation are 30 percent less likely to graduate than students who do not take remedial courses.

Broadway proposed a plan to encourage the continued decrease in the number of college students who need to be enrolled in remedial-level coursework.

His plan includes statewide program replication, established training for areas with high demand for workers, allowances for students to receive associates degrees at four year institutions and credit-earning options for remedial class work.

Program replication allows the state to examine programs that are working across the state, and use those programs in other areas where needed. These programs would help prepare students for college and help them keep up with their peers during college.

“It isn’t that (high school graduates) aren’t prepared for teaching, its that they aren’t prepared for college work,” Broadway said.

There are also many middle-class income career areas in Arkansas that have a need for more workers in their field. Students who do not make it through college or some kind of training do not have the skills required to apply for these jobs. Part of the plan is to seek students who have skill sets in these certain areas and train them.

In addition, Broadway wants to make applications for associates degrees available to students.

“Students who drop out after their general education courses have no way of receiving proof that they have completed 60 hours,” Broadway said. “I would like to make it where students can apply for their associates degree after completing 60 hours.”

Students with an associates degree are most likely to go back for their bachelor’s degree, according to Broadway.

The final suggestion in the proposed education plan is to create a way in which students can receive some amount of credit for their remedial courses.

Currently, if students take a remedial course they are taking a three hour class for no credit hours. If they are taking multiple remedial courses, they could be looking at an entire semester in college with no credits to show for it.

“I would like to see a lab or something created so that the students can at least have some credit for taking the courses,” Broadway said.

Jill Simons, dean of the university college, asked if changes to the state-mandated ACT composite minimum would help to lower the number of remedial students. Broadway said the Arkansas Department of Higher Education is waiting to see how the institution takes to the new programs and tests installed to help students have an alternative way to get into college.

Additionally, a new legislative bill went through for the Schools of Innovation process called Act 601. This act provides alternative ways for school districts to approach learning for all students.

Natalie Johnson-Leslie of the department of teacher education asked what could be done to bring more parents of students into the educational discussion.

“We do have to bring parents into the discussion earlier,” Broadway said. “We need to remind them of college expectations every year because college is an option for everyone, and the students are going to need more than a high school diploma.”

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